By: Pamela Pickard
CAP Board President
Central Arizona Project (CAP) is the primary steward of central Arizona’s Colorado River water supplies and places paramount importance on the health and sustainability of the river. Since 2000, the Colorado River basin has endured the worst drought in centuries, yet Colorado River water users in California, Nevada and Arizona have not had to reduce the volume of water they receive from the river. How has this been possible? Largely because our predecessors constructed a system of reservoirs (including Lake Mead and Lake Powell) that allow the Colorado River basin to store four times the amount of water it receives in a normal year. Fortunately, those reservoirs were full when the current drought started and even 14 years later are still nearly half full.
But there will be Colorado River shortages in CAP’s future, perhaps as early as 2016 or 2017. It is important for Arizonans to understand what will happen and what will not happen when that day arrives. When a shortage is declared on the Colorado River, the impacts will first be felt by CAP’s agricultural customers, who could lose more than half of their CAP water. CAP has been working with the agricultural community as they have prepared for anticipated reductions. For many farmers, a CAP shortage will mean a return to groundwater pumping.
But a shortage on the Colorado River in the coming years will not require any reduction in CAP water deliveries to cities, towns or other municipal water providers. That is because those customers enjoy a higher priority to water, meaning that those uses are among the last to be cut when CAP supplies are reduced.
Over the longer term, growing water demands—both within the CAP service area and along the Colorado River—and more severe shortages will likely reduce the amount of water available from the river for delivery to CAP’s municipal customers. But CAP has prepared for that, working with the Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA) to store Colorado River water in underground aquifers in central Arizona where it can be recovered during shortage. So far, the AWBA has stored about 3 million acre-feet to protect CAP municipal supplies. CAP has been working for several years with the AWBA, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and stakeholders to develop a plan for the recovery of that water.
CAP is also actively engaged with ADWR, the other six basin states, the United States and Mexico to address the long-term health and sustainability of the Colorado River system and the growing water needs of the region. Achieving those goals will ultimately require a combination of improved efficiency, increased supply and demand reduction.
To that end, CAP has invested in a number of programs within our service area and our region—building a new reservoir in California, operating the Yuma Desalting Plant, and funding conservation in Mexico to preserve Colorado River supplies in Lake Mead. CAP also supports innovations in water conservation in partnership with California and Nevada water providers. Augmenting Colorado River supplies through desalination of sea water or brackish (salty) groundwater is also being investigated.
Drought preparedness is not only a CAP priority; it is a shared responsibility among all water users in the southwest. There is no magic bullet that can resolve all of these issues. Importantly, individual efforts to use water more efficiently and local efforts to develop alternative supplies are every bit as critical to our water future as the larger, regional projects. At CAP, we are committed as individuals and as an organization to doing our part to address the great challenges ahead.
By: Mark Stapp
Master of Real Estate Development program
ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business
President Barack Obama’s speech this month in Phoenix created another heightened public discussion about the housing market. In some respects, it was more of the same conversation about a complex topic that unfortunately, for the most part, has lacked a human element.
Most of the time, the public discussion about the housing market is about how it is improving — or not, in some places — as well as its impact on our economy. It is widely accepted that a recovered and healthy housing market is critical to the entire U.S. economic recovery.
We hear continued calls to reform the housing market, banking, the mortgage process and government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We also hear calls to require more private investment in the mortgage market and to prosecute executives involved in mortgage fraud.
Many housing advocates remain upset by the foreclosure scandal, and stories swirl about illegal foreclosures and servicers demolishing the wrong homes. Attention is also focused on investors buying up homes, tight supply and tight underwriting standards, making it difficult for homeowners to buy homes, as well as a lack of skilled labor to help meet the increased demand to build new ones.
A community bedrock
News reporters parse these aspects and ask categorical questions about the market. However, housing is a complex industry, and the market is simply the manifestation of how the industry is working. It is like a fine watch with many synchronized mechanisms that allow it to function effectively and efficiently.
Unlike other manufacturing industries, the housing industry is also the bedrock of sustainable communities. Housing makes up both a local community and personal assets, representing a significant part of a community’s built capital. We need quality, affordable housing for a vibrant local economy.
However, it is difficult to change this industry and rid it of fraud, abuse, greed and inefficiency while still ensuring it can keep originating the high volume of mortgages it now creates. Like a watch, the industry is designed to move only in one direction — creating new mortgages so supply can be absorbed.
This industry does not work well at fixing problems. It is not designed to deal with individuals, their problems and their stories. The system has no empathy and no sympathy. It can’t work backward when communities and individuals have problems. Private business exists to make a profit, and profit is made in the creation, at the transaction, not fixing problems that emerge after the creation.
A long-term fix that deals with inevitable economic downturns will mean building empathy into the process, and that will not happen without regulatory involvement that enforces a public purpose and provides an efficient, transparent, equally available system to deal with individuals and communities after the mortgage has been created, packaged, sold, sliced, diced and given to an unimpassioned third party to collect payments.
Avoiding the next crisis
The president’s speech included a wide array of programs, initiatives and actions. These represent the complexity of the industry and the problem. The entire industry is not just about making money on the creation; it’s also about people’s lives — and our lives change, circumstances change, and the economy changes. The reason we have a crisis of this magnitude is that the industry does not work backward, so to avoid another crisis, maybe changes should consider how we deal with individuals and how we include an opportunity for empathy throughout the process.
The recession did not just penalize those who took out mortgages they could not afford. The recession was also a sucker punch to many in the middle of life and many toward retirement. Whatever you had in play through the honest work ethic taught from a previous generation all of a sudden was turned on an axis. It was unfamiliar territory and required assistance that was counter to what the industry or our society was designed to provide.
Greed must not be the leading business force for our sustainable future as a global leader. We, as a society, should want to create a healthy, balanced capitalist market to accommodate whatever shifts occur for all concerned to ride the waves of the always changing markets.
This article first appeared in The Arizona Republic’s op-ed section on August 15, 2013.
By: Lori McConville
Executive Vice President, The Caliber Group
In 2012 Valley Forward (now Arizona Forward) decided to expand its mission statewide. This decision supported the organization’s growth after 43 years of success in the Phoenix area. The organization needed a new name – Arizona Forward – and brand to help launch the statewide presence. The Caliber Group, based in Tucson with offices in Phoenix and Charleston, had the expertise Arizona Forward was seeking to position the organization and develop a new brand.
Caliber delved into the organization’s past and present and also examined its future goals in order to fully understand what it was Arizona Forward needed to be successful. Caliber President Kerry Stratford worked with her team to come up with an entire business package that included a logo, launch assessment, updated web presence, social media, branding and other online tools.
The process was highly collaborative and because Arizona Forward had such a clear vision, creating the logo was a smooth process. The organization had an abstract message – one that isn’t always simple to translate into a visual. But key messages, such as growth, development and the environment were ever present and it became clear in the branding process that the logo needed to reflect those components.
Caliber created just that – a logo that clearly shows what Arizona Forward is most focused on: a balance between the built environment and environmental sustainability.
Stakeholders and the organization’s board were pleased with the logo and feel it clearly defines the organization’s future goals. A postcard announcing the new look was also a big success and was awarded a Tucson Addy Award.
Arizona Forward’s Chief Executive Officer and President, Diane Brossart, said the process with Caliber was extremely pleasant and successful. “We never felt like we were off base. The Caliber team was really in tune with what we were trying to achieve. The logo was dead-on and the colors perfect.”
Caliber continues to work with Arizona Forward and is currently redesigning its website as well as designing an electronic newsletter template, event presentation boards and membership materials.
The methodical rollout has been very well received and Arizona Forward’s email inboxes are constantly full with inquires from new sources interested in learning more about its mission. It’s exciting and daunting, Brossart admits, but it’s worth it because it’s Our Environmental Legacy, Your Sustainable Future.
By: Bill Wiley
Director, Maricopa County Air Quality Department
Despite the warm temperatures outside, Oct. 1 marked the beginning of winter air pollution season in Maricopa County. Throwing a log on the fire might seem a long way off, but as the holidays draw near, the desire to gather ‘round a fire with family and friends will grow, so Maricopa County residents may want to think twice before they throw that log on the fire.
When levels of particulate pollution are expected to reach unhealthy levels, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department issues a “No Burn Day” advisory. Restrictions last for a 24-hour period, starting at midnight, and include a ban on woodburning activity in fireplaces, fire pits and open outdoor fires. Aside from taking a chance on getting a fine for up to $250, the purpose of the No Burn Day restriction is to avoid adding pollution to our air when the forecast suggests air quality will approach or exceed the federal health standard.
State and county agencies measure PM-10 and PM-2.5 which are extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets found circulating in the air. PM, or particulate matter, comes from either combustion (cars, industry, woodburning) or dust stirred up into the air. High levels of PM are typically created when the air is especially stagnant or especially windy. PM-10 stands for particulate matter measuring 10 microns or less. PM-2.5 stands for particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less. To put this in perspective, one strand of human hair is 70-100 microns in size.
Once you’re aware of the forecast, do your part to avoid adding to the pollution in our air. By taking small, simple steps every day, we can all make a difference. For example:
It is up to each and every person living within Maricopa County to take responsibility to adhere to these restrictions when in effect, but if you think someone is in violation of these restrictions, you may report an air quality problem or polluter at any time by calling the Maricopa County Air Quality Department at (602) 372-2703, submitting a report through our Clean Air Make More mobile app, or filing online at www.maricopa.gov/aq under the Contact Us/Report a Violation tab.
By: George Grombacher
This place has canyon walls that make you question your place in existence…walls that give evidence of the power of time and water.
The creek water is naturally infused with lime, making it so clear and blue; pictures just can not do it justice.
One of the hikes presents a descent which brings your mortality into question (particularly if heights are not your favorite — check out Mooney Falls), the rewards being one breathtaking waterfall after another. Havasupai is a trip worth making.
Shopping at REI to get ready for the trip, I felt like a kid in a candy store…that place is awesome. I can’t believe I was so unaware of all the stuff I didn’t really need, but bought anyway.
We drove to Peach Springs the night before and the final 60 mile drive to the trail head almost felt like I was driving through a deer farm and was reminded of why Bambi is one of the deadliest animals. Drive slowly because they like to surprise humans.
When we set out at 6 a.m., the hike is a piece of cake. That’s because heading in, it’s all downhill. Reality sets in when you realize you’ve got to go back out. We spent two nights and I believe that’s the right amount. One night would not be enough and three may be too many. We set our alarms for 3 a.m. in order to avoid getting cooked by the sun on the way out, which proved to be a wise decision.
The entire experience reminded me of the incredible, dynamic beauty of our state which is sometimes forgotten as I commute south on the 51 in the mornings, into the brown cloud occasionally hanging over the city.
As someone who has researched and invested in alternative energy, I know how important a time this is. We have incredible and brilliant technology available to us, from wind and solar to algae and geothermal. Frankly, it all makes my head spin. Balancing the costs with the effects on the climate and on polar bears, it’s challenging to know which direction is the right one.
I intend to make the Valley my home for many years to come and that’s why I am a member of Valley Forward, so I can be a part of the conversation. Maintaining our state’s dynamic beauty will require as many of us as possible.